BEIRUT: What you will find behind a heavy black iron door located in an indistinguishable alley at the end of Bliss Street, will take you by surprise. A publishing and distribution house named Al Furat has a special corner which consists of around 20,000 vigorously colored vintage Arabian movie posters dating back to the 1950s, collected by movie junkie Abboudi Abu Jawdeh and some friends who were in Beirut and other Arab cities. This rich collection documents the artistic and cinematic history of the Arab World.
Abu Jawdeh started collecting movie posters when he was about 15-years-old. “When you’re a teenager, you hang pictures of your favorite actor or character in your room, this is how it all started,” he said looking around his collection of antique posters. “My favorites were Steve Mcqueen, Clint Eastwood, I was more interested in foreign movies at the beginning” highlights Abu Jawdeh, who later became curious about Arabic movies “the Arab movie posters were printed on older machines, so it was different.” The prices of these posters range from $10 to $500 for interested customers.
Abu Jawdeh’s interest developed throughout the years, as he started asking around for Arabian movie posters, especially posters of Lebanese movies. His job, at the time, required him to travel a lot to countries like Egypt, Iraq, Tunis, and Morocco. “When I was done with work and had free time, I would go to movie theatres to collect posters, and later on, I had people who possessed movie posters contacting me and asking me if I were interested in having them,” Abu Jawdeh told Annahar. One of the reasons he started collecting is because “there isn't really any accurate documentation of the movies or when they came out.”
The movie junkie used to visit the theatre every week. “I still go to the cinema weekly, I recently watched Bohemian Rhapsody, I loved the movie and I’m a fan of the band,” said Abu Jawdeh. “I also watched A Star is Born, but I liked the older versions better.” He also notes that his favorite genre is Science Fiction, but he isn't a great fan of the recent ones “My favorite movie is Star Wars: 2001 A Space Odyssey.”
Besides his poster collecting passion, Abu Jawdeh published a book titled Tonight in 2015. The black velvety hardcover book contains all movies shot in Lebanon from 1929 to 1979. “That’s 50 years of Lebanese cinema, all movies with their posters, pictures, and descriptions are included in the book,” he noted. “They portray the image of an entire society and how life was at the time, it shows what people wanted to watch and what they were like.”
Abu Jawdeh explains the older process of creating movie posters and noted “artists used to hand-draw and paint the picture in a smaller size at first, then they would enlarge it and carve it on zinc which is the posters plaque, each color separately.”
According to Abu Jawdeh, movie posters are not the same anymore. “There’s a lot more censorship limitations now. This is because movie posters are no longer the primary incentive for people to watch movies, nowadays it’s the movie trailer,” he noted. “What’s special about posters is that the artist introduces you to the movie and characters in an attention-grabbing and beautiful way.”
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